By Okey Ndiribe, Asst. Political Editor
Professor Tam David-West, a former Minister of Petroleum and a social critic insists that despite the amnesty programme, the adoption of the Niger-Delta Technical Report, is the way out. He spoke to Vanguard on telephone. Excerpts:
What is your assessment of the Federal Governmentâ€™sÂ implementation of the Amnesty Programme for repentant militants of the Niger Delta?
Why didnâ€™tÂ President Yarâ€™Adua implement the Niger Delta Technical Report?Â Nigerians have just been dancing to cosmetic issues. They would spend their time eating and drinking. Initially, they wanted to use Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, but that did not work. We are not serious in this country. It is either we have one Nigeria or we donâ€™t. It is either we adopt the con-federal or federal arrangement. We have more than 240 ethnic groups in this country. We have been doing nonsense.
For almost anything that happens to us weÂ dance withÂ their coral beads andÂ Â hats. What they are doing in Niger Delta canâ€™tÂ be toleratedÂ in any other part of the country. Let them go and try it in the South-western part of the country and see what wouldÂ happen.Â We are not serious. If you go back in history, they used to call the youths of these region who wereÂ protesting against the injustice that has been meted to us asÂ terrorists. I told them that these boys are not terrorists but militants. I asked them how can these boys be terrorists? Retired Gen. Theophilus Danjuma recently announced that he made a profit of $500 million from one oil block alone.
What do you think is the way forward?
The way forward is adhering to sincerity and honesty. Let the governors, the people ofÂ NigeriaÂ and all others who are involved in governance be sincere and honest. Let the Niger Delta people wake up.
Do you believe that if the Niger Delta Technical Report is implemented, it would be a way forward?
Yes, yes. President Yarâ€™Adua doesnâ€™tÂ want to implement constitutional reforms and the Niger Delta Technical Report.Â That is why he set up another review committee so that the members can go to eat drinkÂ and waste time.
But now we have Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who hails from the Niger Delta region as ActingÂ President…
His appointment as Acting President is unconstitutional. It is only politically expedient, but it is constitutionally fouled. Did the constitution stipulate that the Acting President should be appointed based on the resolution of the National Assembly?Â I want that resolution to be challenged up to the Supreme Court so that it would be thrown out.
What has been done is good only for a political purpose but it is not constitutional. There is no sectionÂ in the Constitution which providesÂ that the National Assembly should vote in order to elevateÂ a Vice-President toÂ the office ofÂ Acting President. Go and read sections 144 and 145 of the constitution.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo left this country numerous times during his tenure in office but never handed over to former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar for once; did anybody protest? Another issue I want to comment on is the statement made by the Government of the United States ofÂ AmericaÂ expressingÂ worry over President Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s return to the country. My question is what is the business of the United States in the internal affairs of Nigeria? The Americans should shut up.
But President Yarâ€™Adua has endorsed Dr. GoodluckÂ JonathanÂ as Acting Presidentâ€¦.
Is that what the Constitution stipulates? President Yarâ€™Adua only said that by word of mouth.
The constitution did not provide that an Acting President should be appointed by word of mouth. Are you not worried that PresidentÂ Yarâ€™Adua chose to come back to the country on the day of the Federal Executive Council meeting?
We in the south here just make noise while in the north they plan.Â When YarAdua said Dr Jonathan could continue as Acting President, he ( Jonathan) should have requested for the mandatory letter that should be written to the Senate President andÂ Speaker of the House ofÂ Representatives.Â While Yarâ€™Adua was away, he signed a budget,Â so why canâ€™t he sign a letter?